In Gibsons, we have been blessed with favorable access to the Gibsons Aquifer, a pure groundwater resource which provides potable water to the Town’s three water zones. It’s a pristine, award-winning and irreplaceable natural asset and we take our stewardship of it very seriously.
Development Permit Area No. 9 Update
The Town of Gibsons has established Development Permit guidelines to regulate development in the areas designated as Development Permit Areas (DPAs).
DPA 9 is the Development Permit Area related to the Gibsons Aquifer and was established to:
- Protect the Gibsons Aquifer from possible pollution from land use and development activities;
- Protect the integrity of the low-permeable till layer (the aquitard);
- Promote the efficient use of water to ensure a sustainable hydrologic system in the watershed and ensure a sustainable source of potable water; and
- Provide an opportunity for furthering the understanding of the hydrology of the Gibsons Aquifer system.
In Q4 2020, the Town began working with a third-party consultant to update DPA 9, by clarifying guidelines and reviewing all the data collected to date from development permits issued since the inception of DPA 9. The update is intended to expand measures to protect the Capilano aquifer, which sits on top of the Gibsons Aquifer, and to provide improved clarity for applicants and professionals.
In 2012, the Town completed the installation of a universal water metering system at a cost of $1.5 million. This initiative delivered many important benefits, helping us to identify and repair hidden leaks and raise our collective awareness of water use. At the same time, our finance department implemented a new “user-pay” system, along with appropriate water rates, in order to cover the operation, maintenance and future replacement costs of Gibson’s water infrastructure.
Together, these initiatives have led to a dramatic decline in our community’s water use. In fact, between 2008 and 2020, our Town’s per capita water usage dropped by more than half, from approximately 800 litres per day to approximately 350 litres per day.
Aquifer Mapping Study
Another large investment the Town’s taxpayers have made in recent years is the commissioning of a grant-assisted four-year mapping study of the Gibsons Aquifer. Completed in 2013, at a total cost of $500,000, this comprehensive, science-based water-strategy document has become a key resource for any person contemplating projects that might impact the aquifer, from the Town’s planners to the province’s environmental officers.
Groundwater Monitoring Program
Gibson’s Official Community Plan envisions us adding approximately 5,000 residents to the Town over the next 20 years (for a total population of 10,000). As our population grows, the Aquifer Mapping Study prescribes gathering detailed information about the long-term effects of variables such as user demand, climate change, and sea level rise on the aquifer’s total capacity. Accordingly, the Town implemented an annual groundwater monitoring program in 2009, so that we are consistently able to make sound, fact-based decisions about our future build-out.
Aquifer Protection and the George Hotel
The Town has followed an extensive and exhaustive review process to ensure that the Gibsons Aquifer will be protected once the George Project gets underway. This video summarizes the results of this review and explains how the site clean-up and subsequent construction process will take place so that our aquifer remains safe at every stage of site development.
We have also provided responses to a number of Frequently Asked Questions about Aquifer Protection in relation to the George.